The Calgary rental market vacancy rate remains very low. Even with a slight increase in the fall of 2014, it is hard to find housing and rental rates remain high.

Given the environment, investors see opportunity. But what’s the best purchase to ensure long term growth and income? The safest best is the property that will always rent so chose wisely and consider the following:

1. Location

Every city has preferred neighbourhoods and zones. The rental market is usually the first stop for newcomers to our city so choosing neighbourhoods that are safe, have great access to transportation and amenities is key. Understand the type of renters attracted to various areas you are considering.

2. Think Winter

Calgary winters can be tough, especially for newcomers that are not used to shoveling snow. Properties that offer in suite laundry, secure parking are obvious positive winter features. In addition look for properties that provide good accessible access roads for cars or transit and are in close proximity to Calgary’s excellent multi-modal pathway network. If you are looking at condos, then consider how well a complex is maintained and what their reserve fund is.

3. Security

Some buyers may not want to purchase a ground floor condo unit especially in more densely populated areas for concerns regarding security. You’ll easily see the trend when comparing the pricing of the same units in a building that are below or at ground vs those above. If you want to expand your pool of renters, purchase a property that is perceived to be more secure. For condos that means units on the 2nd or 3rd floor (or above), security doors and well lit entrances, secure parkades and well lit hallways. For single family homes, the feeling of security is based on location, layout, solid construction, good doors and locks. If you don’t feel safe when viewing a property then neither will your tenants.

4. Interior details

A beautifully appointed home is going to appeal to more renters, but that comes with cost so the opportunity is in finding the right balance of home features, layout, finishes and amenities. Consider the purchase price and rental price range you are considering and ensure your potential home meets the general expectations of that price point. As the price increases folks expect more amenities, larger space, upgraded appliances, views, decks, etc. Some flooring material wears better and will require less long term maintenance. State of repair and cleanliness are key when showing a rental property but may not be deciding factors in purchasing one. Elbow grease goes a long way to maximizing your return on investment.

5. Know your numbers

What is the total cost of owning and managing the property type you are considering? It is not just about the simple equation of rent – mortgage = income. Factor in property taxes, utilities, condo fees, and maintenance needs. Will you include utilities in the total rental cost or expect tenants to pay their own? Some older homes can see hundreds more in utility costs than newer or renovated home.

6. Who is your target renter?

If you have the time to run a more engaged rental business, you may wish to consider a furnished home that could cater to shorter term leases (3-6) months for corporate or temporary residences for those working or transitioning to our city. There is more work involved, but in return, higher rental margins. Understand the local market and rental needs and decide on your best plan before purchase.

I often get calls from investors looking for a great deal, but investment properties are about so much more than low initial capital cost. The most important number are your monthly revenue, expenses, risk projections and considerations for long term appreciation. The most successful landlords I have worked with are those that invest with a long term vision, mitigate risk, and work closely with a Realtor that gives them the numbers they need to make the best decision.

When you are ready to invest just give me a call to get started.
Monika Furtado, 403 850 2446,